It was another bad day at the office for world champion Mark Selby as his current woes continued with a 4-2 defeat to Liang Wenbo in the first round of the Romanian Masters on Wednesday.
The pair could only muster a single break of 50 between them in the six frames they played but Liang eventually managed to prevail in the scrappy affair while avoiding a decider.
Selby, the runaway world number one, has struggled to reproduce the kind of form from last year that saw him capture a record-equalling five ranking titles in a single campaign.
With the defence of his China Open and, more importantly, the World Championship on the horizon, the Leicester man will surely be concerned at the current state of his game – albeit the Romanian Masters is only an invitational tournament.
Three other encounters in the last 16 were completed on the opening day of action at the Circul Metopolitan venue in Bucharest.
Stuart Bingham came through against Neil Robertson in the closest tie of the day after the Englishman won the last two frames to secure a 4-3 success over his fellow former world champion.
After Bingham compiled a superb tournament-high 137 break in the penultimate frame to force the shoot out for a berth in the quarter-final, a tight final frame ensued with Robertson’s break of 51 proving not to be enough as his opponent emerged victorious on the final colours.
The first two fixtures of the day were the complete opposite as Ali Carter and Stephen Maguire triumphed in a dominant fashion against Mark Williams and Mark King respectively.
Both looked impressive as Maguire constructed breaks of 109, 108, 74, and 61 to see off King, who was a late replacement for the injured Shaun Murphy, while Carter rattled off runs of 133, 74, and 71 to dispatch of Williams – a three-time tournament winner from this term.
On Thursday, the first round will reach its conclusion with four more duels set to take place.
Mark Allen and Kyren Wilson clash in a repeat of their Masters final showdown in January, which the Northern Irishman won to capture his maiden Triple Crown trophy, while Anthony McGill takes on John Higgins in an all-Scottish affair.
Ryan Day and Barry Hawkins, who have each already shown form in March, meet while Judd Trump and Luca Brecel will battle in an eye-catching encounter between two attacking players.